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Public Transit

Downtown Bus Parking Lot Layover Facility

The proposed multiuse and bus layover facility would provide an off-street location in Downtown San Diego where transit vehicles can be parked in the short turnaround time between runs. This layover facility is needed to maintain bus schedules and to provide a location where transit operators can rest at the start and conclusion of routes. Buses are currently being parked at temporary layover locations curbside around downtown. The layover facility could be located on a surface lot, or built on the ground floor of a multi-use building with office, commercial, and/or residential development.

The layover facility would serve existing Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) local routes, along with Rapid 215, Rapid 235, and Rapid Express 280 and 290 routes, which began operation in 2014. The facility also will serve the South Bay Rapid, which is scheduled to begin service in 2017. Rapid services were approved by voters in 2004 as part of TransNet, the half-cent sales tax for regional transportation projects.

Project Location

As part of the preliminary planning process, SANDAG analyzed five potential sites to identify which locations best meet operational needs and have the least impact on surrounding neighborhoods. The results of the evaluation identified two sites in Downtown San Diego’s Civic Core neighborhood as the most suitable for the facility. The first potential site is on a block bounded by A Street, Union Street, B Street, and State Street. The second potential site is bounded by A Street, Front Street, B Street, and Union Street. To ensure on-time transit service for downtown riders, the layover facility needs to be located close to transit routes that terminate near the America Plaza Trolley Station and Santa Fe Train Depot. Because most buses in the facility would park for 15 minutes or less, the close location ensures that buses operate on schedule. It also minimizes operational costs and the need for additional bus circulation on surface streets downtown.

Project Need

The goal of the layover facility is to provide a permanent off-street location for buses to park between runs, providing a central location for driver breaks, and freeing up on-street parking spaces and preserving existing spaces. The project would accommodate existing local bus routes and Rapid services that currently park on the street in western downtown, thereby making more on-street parking available to residents and businesses.

The potential multiuse aspect of the facility is based on the goals of SANDAG owning the facility that houses its office space as well as providing an opportunity for mixed use development on a block of land in a vibrant area of downtown.

Project Features

Number of Vehicles
The proposed layover facility would operate between 4 a.m. and 1 a.m., with the highest use occurring in the morning and afternoon peak commute hours. The facility is expected to accommodate up to 18 vehicles at a time and about 35 vehicles per hour during peak travel times (fewer in off-peak hours). Current traffic volumes on India Street, Kettner Boulevard, and Ash Street are approximately 4,000 vehicles per day, or 200-300 vehicles per peak hour.

Length of Layover
The facility is intended to serve as a short-term bus layover. Layovers would range from a few minutes to 15 minutes per vehicle. Buses would not idle with engines running while in the layover facility.

Maintenance would not be conducted at the site, beyond light activity such as refilling windshield wiper fluid and replacing light bulbs. Additionally, no buses would be parked at the facility overnight, and no passengers would be served at the facility (buses arrive and leave empty). Additionally, there will be no fueling of buses at the facility.

Facility Design
In order to make sure that the layover facility is compatible with the surrounding mixed-use neighborhood, SANDAG will work closely with area residents and businesses to design visual screening. In addition,  if a mixed-use development is pursued that could house offices for SANDAG, potential retail, commercial and/or residential uses, and the proposed layover facility, enhanced integration into the character of the area is possible.

Project Status

SANDAG completed a site assessment analysis in 2015 to compare the five candidate sites. The findings of the analysis were presented to the SANDAG Board of Directors at their meeting on May 22, 2015. At the meeting, the Board voted to eliminate Sites 1, 2, and 3 from further consideration and pursue Sites 4 and 5 for further evaluation. SANDAG staff will now develop a detailed project description, determine options for California Environmental Quality Act compliance, and determine options for site acquisition. This information will be brought to the SANDAG Board of Directors in fall 2015.

Throughout the process, SANDAG will continue to engage the public to provide information about the project, answer questions and concerns, and seek input on design elements.

Project Costs

Approximately $16 million has been allocated to the layover facility project from TransNet, the local half-cent sales tax for transportation projects.

Project Manager

Laura Cote, Director of Administration
Phone: (619) 699-6947, Email:

Miriam Kirshner, Senior Regional Planner
Phone: (619) 699-6995, Email:

For media inquiries, please contact David Hicks at (619) 699-6939 or